A Brief History of Haiti Constitution

The government of Haiti GOH) has passed almost as many constitutions as it has survived coup d'etats. Haiti's current Constitution, passed in 2012, is the 23rd one written into law.


The first Constitution of Saint-Domingue in 1801 appointed General Toussaint L'Ouverture as ruler for life. It also put an end to slavery, democratized hiring practices, and prohibited all religions except Catholicism. The 1805 Constitution allowed all forms of religious faith and approved reverse-race discrimination, calling all citizens black. The 1807 Constitution removed the reverse-race discrimination clause.

In 1816, the 1806 Constitution was revived, declaring President Alexandre Pétion President for Life. It also gave him unilateral power over Parliament. But under Jean-Baptiste Riché, the 1816 Constitution was put into effect again.

When Michel Domingue held office, the 1874 Constitution gave him authority to reform the judicial system and set up a Council of State. The 1918 Constitution, ratified by a U.S.-sponsored popular vote, was rigged. By 1935, the Constitution had become pro-Fascist, a propaganda tool permitting Sténio Vincent to exercise nearly absolute control over government functions.

The 1950 Constitution marked significant social progress in Haiti, giving women the right to vote. But the 1964 Constitution gave François Duvalier authority to rule until his death. In the oft-referred to 1987 Constitution, bi-national citizenship was prohibited, rescinded for five years, and finally re-instituted in 1994.

The current 2012 Constitution again permits bi-national citizenship, the initiation of an in-perpetuity constitutional court and electoral council, and that one-third of all government positions be women-held.

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Read more: Toussaint L'Overture, Francois Duvalier, constitution, Woman, Stenio Vincent, President for Life, 1987 constitution, 2011 Amended Constitution, Alexandre Petion, Michel Domingue, Jean Baptiste Riche, 1801, Government, Legislative Branch, Court

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